The University takes academic misconduct very seriously and has a long policy on academic misconduct available here.
A slightly more student friendly guide is available here however here is an easy summary of what it means:
Academic misconduct covers a wide variety of issues including:
- Multiple submission
- False citation
- Misconduct in exams or class tests
- Aiding and abetting
- Contract cheating
Copying part of all of someone else’s work and also taking someone else’s ideas and presenting them as your own. You can’t just alter the wording or reference a large chunk of text. If in doubt ask your lecturer or go to SALTIRE, or check out STAR radio's podcast on top tips to avoid plagiarism here.
Submitting a piece of work that you have already submitted on another course
Falsifying data or information e.g. adjusting a data set to fit your argument
Citing a source for information when the source doesn’t contain that information
Misconduct in exams or class tests
Not following the rules set down for exams, including but not limited to: taking in unauthorised equipment/information, impersonation, unauthorised removal of yourself or your exam script from the exam venue, undeclared acquisition of the exam script before the exam
Aiding and abetting
Any involvement in another persons academic misconduct. Also sharing essays or other pieces of work which could be submitted in whole or part for marking. It’s fine to talk about your work but don’t hand it over
Having someone other than yourself complete your work
There are a variety of sanctions that the University can impose ranging from a written warning to (in the most extreme cases) expulsion from the University.
Referencing is the acknowledgement of the use of someone else’s work - whether the use of direct quotes or ideas taken from this work It is very important to reference correctly as failure to do so is called plagiarism which is punishable under the Universities “Academic Misconduct Policy” as described here.
It is irrelevant whether the work you submit is being assessed to count towards your module or not, any plagiarism is treated severely by the University. Much of your work has the potential to be submitted to a system called Turnitin. This scans your work against a huge database of sources - online, in journals and books and also other peoples work that has previously been fed through the system. This produces a report that an academic member of staff can interpret to decide whether or not you have plagiarised your work.
All this can be avoided by following the guidelines for referencing your work. Sadly this is slightly complicated by the fact that there are many different systems of referencing and there is not one applied to the whole University (they will differ
between schools). Therefore you need to find out what is applicable to you, which may change depending on the piece of work you‘re doing and the year you are in. The easiest way is probably just to check with your tutor what they expect.
The library has a useful page here which runs through some of the most common systems.
This page also has information about reference management software. This can be really useful in keeping track of all your references and can create bibliographies for you in a variety of styles. It also means it keeps all your references in one place so any more work you do has all the references waiting. Best of all it’s free to use on any University computer or your own computer!
Not Referencing Properly
It’s very easy to get confused with what information has come from which of the dozens of sources you may have looked it. The best advice is to reference as you go along. This means you don’t need to go back to pick through your essay to check what is exact quotes and what ideas have been used and link them into your references.
All work that you submit must be your own as an individual, even if you have gathered data in a group you still need to submit your own work - check with your tutor what you need to do on your own if you are unsure.
This means that you can’t send people copies of an essay or lab report to help them, even if it’s just a first draft. This policy varies by school, so as always the best advice is to check with your tutor to be sure you know what applies to you.
It’s a common misconception that by ‘paraphrasing’ a source, i.e. changing some of the words, means it is no longer plagiarism. This is not the case and it is still picked up by Turnitin. You are still using someone else’s idea so it needs to be referenced.
Top Tips to Avoid Unintentional Plagiarism
- Don’t give out your University account/email details
- Don’t share essays/lab reports etc – even draft versions
- Ensure you reference everything you use, make a list as you go rather than stressing at the end
- Use the resources the University provides, they try to make it easy for you
- Check your module handbook/ask your tutor the type of referencing to use, the library has links to how to use many common styles here
- If in doubt – Ask! Your lecturer/tutor will be happy to help or go to SALTIRE if you would prefer